portmanteau words (lexical blending)

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 12 17:24:37 UTC 2000

On Mon, 12 Jun 2000 Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:

> Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 14:16:12 +0200
> From: Suzanne Kemmer <kemmer at eva.mpg.de>
> Subject: How old is lexical blending?
> Does anybody know how old lexical blending is in English?
> Besides the Lewis Carroll examples like _slithy_ and _chortle_,
> which date from 1872, I have found one blend in George Eliot's Middlemarch
> (_Corregiosity_) and then the next oldest I have are citations
> in reference works : 1896 (_brunch_ ) and 1905 (_smog_).

Answering this question is a great use of the OED Online.  A search there
reveals such pre-Lewis Carroll coinages as Nobodaddy (William Blake,
c1793, nobody + daddy) and snivelization (Herman Melville, 1849, snivel +
civilization).  The oldest blends noted by the OED appear to be drubly
(a1340, trobly + drof), paithment (c1375, pavement + paith), wlappe
(c1380, lappe + wrap), withweeed (1567, withwind + birdweed), womanlish
(1579, womanish + womanly), and scraze (1703, scratch + graze).

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

More information about the Ads-l mailing list